Taking a Closer Look at Mindfulness for Children

Mindfulness is a natural state of awareness that enhances well-being and is the foundation for happiness and fulfillment. Studies indicate that one in four people in the United States are suffering from some form of stress or anxiety. Anxiety can cause negative behaviors such as overeating, compulsive eating, and high blood pressure. Stress can also cause negative emotions such as anger, fatigue, restlessness and depression. Mindfulness can reduce symptoms of chronic anxiety or depression by addressing the root cause of the symptoms.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an eight week empirical test program that provides intensive, mind-body wellness training for people with chronic stress, depression and chronic pain. The program is developed to specifically address the needs of those who are struggling with anxiety and chronic pain. Through a unique combination of skills and exercises, participants are trained to recognize the root causes of their symptoms, then to observe and respond appropriately to these triggers. Mindfulness Meditation classes provide the tools to quiet the mind to eliminate the feelings of anxiety and to cultivate mindfulness.

Meditation, which involves sitting comfortably and gently focusing on one’s breathing while ignoring external distractions, is designed to train the mind to become aware of the present moment. Mindfulness is practiced to foster self-awareness, which leads to increased self-esteem and greater levels of confidence and self-control. Through mindful observation and engagement, the mind can gradually focus on and lessen the effects of stress on the body and on life in general. Regular meditation practice not only improves symptoms of chronic anxiety and depression, but it can also reduce the risk of serious physical diseases and disorders like cancer and heart disease.

Meditation and mindfulness go together because both involve a state of being in which you are observing and mindful of what is around you. When you observe with insight, you then respond with appropriate action. Mindfulness is a state of being where you stop focusing on the past or future and place all your attention on the present. In this state, you are observing the way things feel in the moment. Mindfulness can help diminish feelings of anxiety and control your emotions so that you can live your life without fear of judgment or criticism.

One way to cultivate mindfulness is through everyday reflection. Reflection helps you to identify and clarify what you are doing in the present moment, as well as who you are and how you are interacting with others. A good exercise is to clear the clutter of thoughts as you think about things happening in the moment. The goal is to become mindful of the present moment and experience a deeper level of connection with yourself, others, and the world. Once you have developed and refined your mindfulness, you will be able to experience a greater sense of your own worth and an enhanced ability to make creative decisions and improve the quality of your relationships.

Children who are highly attentive to their environment and learn to regulate their thoughts and behavior tend to perform better in school. They also enjoy better grades and have fewer behavioral problems. Researchers have linked mindfulness to lower levels of anxiety and depression. If your child feels disconnected from his life and has low self-esteem, attending a mindfulness retreat can be a great first step in combating these problems and learning how to live a full and productive life.